I just got a Google Home – you know, the speaker you can talk to and it will play music. It tells me what the outside temperature is or what a cup of flour is in milligrams. It also tells me the 10,000th digit of Pi that I often need. It has gone from a household novelty to a necessary appliance in a few short weeks. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone because of the dominating role technology is having in our lives. The iPhone came out 10 years ago, Siri five years ago, and they, like many other technologies, have become an integral part of our lives. It’s been said many times: Technology accelerates exponentially and causes serious consequences in the way we do business. For example, 52 percent of Fortune 500 companies have gone out of business in the last 15 years. Conversely, Amazon started as an online bookseller and is now a cloud service powerhouse.

Itron has a long history of delivering value to its customers. We know our customers and how to develop solutions that customers want and need in this constantly changing world. But when we need to create new business opportunities in this world, we need to act differently. Creating new products to solve known problems for existing customers is a formal process that is well understood in our product lines. However, creating new businesses with solutions that solve new problems for new customers is a whole different problem.  A process that works when we deal with knowns can’t work when we deal with unknowns.

Itron Idea Labs was created with the purpose of discovering and validating new business opportunities using methods appropriate to this objective. Following a lean startup model, Itron Idea Labs is charged with accelerating ideas starting with a concept and soliciting customer input followed by development and transitioning to a commercial product. Itron Idea Labs typically has eight to 10 projects ongoing at any given time, which is driven by Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs).

It’s not just about keeping up with this fast-paced world from a business perspective. It’s about getting these new world novelties to necessary appliances and applications – faster.

Do you have any questions about Itron Idea Labs? I will be doing a Twitter Chat on Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. PST from DistribuTECH in San Diego. Tweet at me (@robertoaiello) using #itronchat. Also, be sure to be following our new Itron Idea Labs showcase page on LinkedIn!

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Roberto Aiello
Managing Director, Itron Idea Labs - Itron Idea Labs
Dr. Roberto Aiello is the managing director of the Itron Idea Labs and responsible for new business innovation at Itron, including Internet of Things.

His previous experience includes managing wireless research at Interval Research, Paul Allen's technology incubator and technology transfer at Disney Research. He is an advisor to Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) and is a Lean Startup expert who serves as a mentor at the Cleantech Open and Startup Weekend.

Dr. Aiello also founded two venture-funded, wireless semiconductor companies and one web/mobile startup. Dr. Aiello worked as a physicist at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Superconducting Super Collider.